OUT ‘N’ ABOUT REVIEW OF THE RELIX – NOVEMBER 27, 2013
The Relix Variety Theatre
1208 North Central Street in “Happy Holler”
As the name implies, the Relix Variety Theatre presents a variety of events, such as film festivals and other screenings, and fundraisers, like the hugely popular “Waynestock.” Their bread and butter, so to speak, is in private rentals, like wedding receptions and whatever. It’s also a pretty cool music venue (see “Waynestock”). In fact, it’s so cool, that if they wanted to, it wouldn’t take much for it to become that mythical Jazz & Blues club that I’ve been dreaming about. But I digress…
It’s located in North Knoxville in an area called Happy Holler (originally Happy Hollow), which had been a thriving manufacturing and textile area in the early to mid-twentieth century. Then followed a period of decline and blight, and the Holler acquired a somewhat unsavory reputation associated with the presence of bars and moonshine. That reputation is still a deterrent to some folks, even after the area has undergone a complete transformation in recent years. In the same block as The Relix, you can find the Time Warp Tea Room, a Tai Chi center, Raven Records, Central Flats & Taps restaurant, and more. The Original Freezo and Three Rivers Market are also nearby.
Inside the Relix, which was a White Store (groceries) back in the day, there’s a good-sized room with a reported capacity of 300, if you pack them in standing room only, but 150-200 is more reasonable, if you want to add some tables and a dance floor, which of course I do. The space has a lot of flexibility with regard to seating and/or dance floor space, and even the location of the stage, which is big enough for the 17-member Streamliners Swing Orchestra to set up and play. There’s a good sound system and lighting, and the acoustics are not bad, either. There’s also a giant screen for showing films.
The Relix is a smoke-free venue, with a full service bar – two bars, actually, though usually only one is in use. There’s a pretty good selection of adult beverages, and they are reasonably priced. They serve food, too. Nothing fancy, but it’s not bad, and it’s reasonably priced. (If you’ve got a hankering for something nicer, you might want to come early and eat at Central Flats & Taps, which is 2 doors down.) The Relix also has nice clean one-person-at-a-time rest rooms.
As for parking, there’s plenty of free parking scattered within a block and half of The Relix, but there’s usually plenty of competition for the really close spots on the street. There are signs that say there’s a 2-hour limit on parking, but I’ve never heard of anyone getting a ticket after 6 o’clock. I’ve parked on the street for 6 hours or more in one spot numerous times and never gotten a ticket (unlike on Gay Street). If all else fails, Three Rivers Market has a very big lot less than 2 blocks away.
I think The Relix is a very nice venue, and I like it. So far this year, I’ve presented 8 shows for grown-ups at The Relix, and I have plans to do some more. At every show, I’ve seen people who were there for their first time, and they’ve liked it a lot. If you’ve never been to The Relix, you should check it out, especially when the Tennessee Valley Jazz & Blues Foundation and Bluegill Productions are presenting a show there. It’s going to be really cool. I guarantee it.